Handout via EPA file
Jang Song-thaek, North Korea's second most powerful man and leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, stands trial before a special military tribunal in Pyongyang, North Korea.
A report claiming that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un executed his uncle by stripping him naked and throwing him to a pack of ravenous dogs likely isn't true.
The story — which scores of American news outlets (including NBC News) reported last week after it was picked up by a prominent Chinese newspaper — appears to have been satire concocted by Chinese microbloggers.
The apparently comedic Dec. 11 post on the Tencent Weibo website claimed Jang Song Thaek — Kim's 67-year-old uncle and former second-in-command — and five aides were killed after being fed alive to 120 hunting dogs which had been starved for days.
The real Hong Kong-based newspaper Wen Wei Po published an article containing a screenshot of the Weibo post — which it used to justify its report that Jang and his staffers had been ripped to shreds by the animals, according to Reuters.
And nearly two weeks later, the report was picked up by yet another publication: the Singapore-based Strait Times newspaper.
On Friday, the erroneous news spread like wildfire across U.S. media.
North Korea announced Jang's execution — by still unknown means — after accusing him of "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state."
Reuters contributed to this report.